Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Businessmen convicted of conspiracy to defraud the public

Three businessmen have been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment suspended for three years for their role in selling and supplying bogus electricity saving devices.

Gary John McGeown, John Paul McGeown and Peter Doran – who traded as Electricity Saver Ireland from a premises in Abbey Street, Armagh –  all pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud consumers and businesses.

An investigation carried out by the PSNI and the Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service discovered that the business sold and fitted devices which they claimed would save users up to 25% off their electricity bills.  Testimonials from satisfied customers were also found to be fake and forensic testing of the devices revealed that they did not deliver any savings and that they amounted to little more than pieces of plastic.

The trio managed to persuade their customers of a “science” behind the devices which backed their claims of value for money.

The hearing at Newry Crown Court heard how customers had paid between £200 and £7,500 to have the devices supplied and fitted. The court heard that the defendants had had not carried out any independent tests on the devices which were manufactured in India. The businessmen made over £275,000 in sales between 2009 and 2013.

Richard Knipe, Trading Standards Service said, “The laws of physics would have to be rewritten for these devices to have worked in the manner claimed by the defendants. Probably the best way of saving money on your electricity bill still remains to be turning electrical devices off.”

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson from the PSNI Economic Crime Unit welcomed the sentencing. “The victims in this case were the loyal customers of Electricity Saver Ireland who handed over their hard-earned money for these fake devices which claimed to reduce electricity bills by 25%.

“In reality, the devices were found to result in a maximum saving of 0.8% and in some cases actually used 1% more electricity when installed. When the police were made aware of concerns about them being sold by Electricity Saver Ireland, we conducted an investigation together with Trading Standards Service.

“This involved having the devices examined by Forensic Science Northern Ireland as well as a University Professor who found that the equipment did not provide the promised reductions.

“As a result of the joint investigation, the fraudsters pleaded guilty to the offences last year and not only have they received suspended sentences for their crimes, they are also now subject to a Proceeds of Crime Confiscation Investigation aimed at recovering monies from the scam which could be used to compensate their victims,” he added.

Anyone who believes they have been affected by this matter can contact the Trading Standards Service’s Consumerline for advice on 0300 123 6262.